Public opinion pressure has been building against the government for over a month now - and today in Belmopan, the PUP wanted to send them a message with a protest that would harness the collective community outrage at a succession of scandals.

But, in terms of numbers, that event fizzled. Apparently, right now, the PUP doesn't have the kind of money that is required to mobilize a true mass party protest. But that doesn't mean today's event was a flatline; in fact, it was very spirited and lively. 7News was on the frontline:...

Daniel Ortiz reporting
When the Leader of the Opposition arrived this morning, it was a boisterous crowd of supporters who made sure to let him know they were there.

They also had choice words for the Government, which has been wracked by scandal over the past few months.

The crowd was about half the 1,000 the PUP said they would bring out, but it was just the start of the day, and more were supposed to be on their way.

Hon. Francis Fonseca - Leader of the Opposition
"It is important for us to have a presence here today and to make a very clear statement that we are dissatisfied with the way the government is running the country. Obviously we have a lot of people who are coming out from the Cayo area who are particularly focused on protesting Mr. Penner and the scandal that is involving the entire government and speaking out very clearly about that corruption. There are many other issues, you see the people from Dangriga here today - they are very angry and frustrated about the situation with their market and the corruption that has caused that project to stop."

"Generally it's a protest against corruption in the UDP Government. Many more people are on their way and our estimate is that we are aiming for about 1,000 people - it's a modest estimate and we expect that that will be easily achieved."

He then left the crowd to attend the House meeting, leaving a crowd of around 420 people to protest on behalf of the PUP. By all indications, the numbers would probably increase, but not to what the party expected. Still, they kept on hoping.

Hon. Julius Espat - Deputy Leader, PUP
"Most of the people out here are from the west; coming out from Cayo South, Cayo North East. The busses from Cayo Central only half has reach and we are getting a bus from Succotz also. The Belmopan people are on their way, so you'll see more crowd."

Reporter
"Mr. Deputy Leader, this is not close to a thousand yet."

Hon. Julius Espat - Deputy Leader, PUP
"It hasn't started as yet. You need to count and then you will tell me afterwards. We need to know the real numbers; we are not playing any kind of games."

Daniel Ortiz
"Sir, in order for a mass party to be credible, at least 3,000 is expected. Why are you guys modestly estimating for 1,000 people?"

Hon. Julius Espat - Deputy Leader, PUP
"There is a difference between a diesel engine and a gasoline engine - we are warming up the diesel engine. It is a matter of slow, but when it cranks up and it gains momentum nothing will stop it. The difference is that we are not paying any single person out here. They are coming out here as volunteers. We are only providing transportation."

But those numbers never did reach. At its height, we counted 577, an improvement over the initial surge, but still not notable given that these scandals have been highly publicized, and also that the PUP were pooling from supporters countrywide.

As the morning progressed, the gathering started to look like a convention for Belmopan where all the hopeful PUP aspirants took the opportunity to get a little mileage.

But, while small protest gave the UDP's a good laugh to see how many people showed up - and held the line even in the rain, the Opposition's leaders say that what is comical is that Ministers aren't willing to face the public and answer to the allegations of improper behavior while in office.

Hon. Julius Espat - Deputy Leader, PUP
"UDP uses your money to be able to bring out people, that's a major difference. They can laugh as long as they want to but when we get in there I want to hear what they have to explain to the Belizean people as to what they have been doing because today is a day to listen to see what excuses they will come up with because our country is in crisis and if they think it's a joke then we have a serious problem."

Hon. Francis Fonseca - Leader of the Opposition
"I think it's disgraceful and how things have changed. The people who claimed to be so accountable are now running from the media, running from the people, bringing out thugs to intimidate the media and to keep themselves away from the media - it's very disgraceful."

"We should never reach that point but it is indicative of the times you are in."

So, now that this demonstration has been a sobering experience for the PUP, they say that the work can now begin for them to be more visible.

Hon. Julius Espat - Deputy Leader, PUP
"For us it's a test. For us we need to know who is serious. We hear people are saying that PUP is not doing anything - well we need to know who is here and who brought out people to know who is serious or not."

Hon. Francis Fonseca - Leader of the Opposition
"This is the beginning as I have said. We have started with a relatively small protest and it will build up and roll over into 2014 and we will be taking our message all across the country."

Hon. Julius Espat - Deputy Leader, PUP
"We are not 4 years after a general election, this is one and a half years after a general election and as Jules said, you have two representatives in there that can't even show their face in public. Let's see, you (the media) have to ask the questions. We are here to answer anything you want but you need to ask the ministers the pertinent and hard questions because the Belizean people want to know."

Channel 7